There aren’t many jobs that don’t include criticism and complaints from the customers. But few careers involve the kind of in-your-face heckling that routinely confronts stand-up comedians. Jamie Kennedy says being an experienced performer is no guarantee of immunity. Nor is a list of TV and movie credits, or even celebrity status.
There aren’t many jobs that don’t include criticism and complaints from the customers. But few careers involve the kind of in-your-face heckling that routinely confronts stand-up comedians.
Jamie Kennedy says being an experienced performer is no guarantee of immunity. Nor is a list of TV and movie credits, or even celebrity status.
“I think if Angelina Jolie came and did stand-up, she might get a heckler,” Kennedy said in a recent telephone interview.
There’s something about going into a club and having a comedian standing there that makes some people — often drunk — think it’s cool to shout at the performer.
“The neat thing about stand-up live performance is, you’re right there,” Kennedy said. “The bad thing is, they’re animals.”
Then again, Kennedy doesn’t always mind a heckler: “I’m tired of material. ... That’s actually what I’m good at — improvising with people, (bleep)-ing with people. I’m not one of those comedians that’s stiffy stiff.”
There’s a clip on YouTube in which a woman admonishes Kennedy for using the term “waitress” instead of “server.”
“Wow, a woman who’s proud to be a waitress,” Kennedy said to laughs from the audience. “It’s weird, I usually just say, ‘Hey (bleep).’” (More laughs.) “No, but is that what they call them at T.G.I. Friday’s?” (Laughter.) “So, a server? Is that what they are? Well I’d like you to serve your mouth shut.” (Laughter and “ohs.”)
After a few more jibes, he asked her whether they were done. The woman nodded yes.
Kennedy said he likes doing stand-up, though he wouldn’t mind being able to draw people to one larger show in a city rather than four smaller ones. He’s been working on his current bits for quite some time, and has a comedy special, “Jamie Kennedy: Uncomfortable,” premiering at 8 p.m. Nov. 6 on Showtime.
“I’m so over my current act. I’ve done it now for three years, and this special will put it to rest,” Kennedy said. “I’d have to write all new stuff now.”
Comedy isn’t like music, where a band makes a record and then goes on the road playing shows in support of the album. In comedy, the album — or in this case the TV special — comes at the end of a long stretch of touring and refining material.
“When you laugh at something, you really only laugh once,” Kennedy said. “The thing with humor is that it’s the surprise at what was said.”
In addition to being a stand-up comic, Kennedy has acted in numerous films, including “Scream,” “Scream 2,” “Three Kings,” “Romeo + Juliet” and “Malibu’s Most Wanted.”
He also had his own TV show on The WB, “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.” It was a hybrid of a hidden camera and sketch comedy show, sort-of a “Punk’d” meets “Da Ali G Show.”
Kennedy also played Eli James on “Ghost Whisperer.” That show starred Jennifer Love Hewitt as a woman who could communicate with the recently departed. Kennedy and Hewitt dated for a time, but broke up earlier this year.
The poster for his “Uncomfortable” TV special prominently features a quote attributed to Hewitt: “This special broke us up!”
Asked about what it was like to date someone in the center of the Hollywood celebrity vortex, Kennedy said all relationships are similar at the core, even if the participants are famous.
“The difference is when people are publicly watching you,” Kennedy said. “What people write can infiltrate your thoughts, so you’ve got to have a strong union.”
Kennedy said actors are often drawn to each other because of the unique demands of their careers.
“Not many people can understand when your girlfriend comes home after working for 16 hours in a day, making tons of money, and she goes, ‘I’m sorry, I was talking to ghosts all day and when I came out of a restaurant, paparazzi hit me and I tripped.’
“ ... For someone like Love, the great thing about it was, she had somebody who could understand that. A guy who works in a pizza shop is not going to get that.”
At the end of the day, Kennedy said, what matters is two people coming together and having a connection. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.
“I’ll always love her, she’s a great girl,” Kennedy said. “We were, at times, in different places.”
Brian Mackey can be reached at 217-747-9587.